The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains

The Online Version of the Best-selling Regional Guidebook

All about coral reefs and the oceans

Western North Carolina Green Resources

All about rain forests of the world

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    Wild & Furry Animals of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, by Lee James Pantas

   Paradise is not without its problems, and even though it would seem at first glance that there are really no environmental concerns in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, there are a couple of issues that have just about everyone who lives here worried. Tops on the list is the air quality problem that occurs primarily in the summer. On certain days even the most remote mountains and valleys, especially in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, have smog that rivals even Los Angeles and other urban centers. The primary culprits are the coal-fired power plants in the Midwest, which spew nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxides into the atmosphere, which are then carried by the prevailing west to east air currents and deposited to our area. A secondary cause, of course, is the fossil fuel driven vehicles that we all use. The battle to stop this pollution from the Midwest plants is being fought on a national level, with North Carolina legislators (and those of adjoining states that are similarly affected) in the forefront of the war. This problem is directly related to the much larger and more ominous issue facing our planet, global warming, which is caused by release of greenhouse gases, some of the very ones that are creating the local air quality problems in the mountains. 

    Other issues are also acid deposition from acid rain in the higher mountain forests. This issue is clearly related to the air pollution problem stemming from the outdated and inefficient coal-fired power plants. Western North Carolina mountains are some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world. Clear cuttings, pollution and sprawling developments are wiping out species and habitats at an alarming rate. While most developers are sensitive to the environment in their developments, the gradual loss of habitat from so many new such projects springing up all over the mountains is having a negative effect on many plant and animal species.

Western North Carolina Environmental Organizations
This list includes organizations that are actively working to preserve the environment in the Western North Carolina mountains and other parts of America.

Asheville Greenworks
Asheville GreenWorks, an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is a volunteer-based organization working to achieve a clean and green Asheville and Buncombe County through community organizing, educating and environmental stewardship. Asheville GreenWorks seeks to enhance the environment and quality of life for citizens in Asheville and Buncombe County through community based projects. 357 Depot Street, Asheville NC 28801, 828-254-1776.

Canary Coalition
A non-profit organization dedicated to restoring clean air in Western North Carolina and the southern Appalachian Region. They are a true grassroots clean air organization effectively working to reduce air pollution in the mountains of Western North Carolina. PO Box 653, Sylva NC 287790;828-631-3447

Conserving Carolina
Conserving Carolina, formed by the consolidation of two sister organizations, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Pacolet Area Conservancy. is a non-profit, voluntary organization that works directly to protect the natural diversity and beauty of Western North Carolina by preserving natural lands and scenic areas. They help families meet their conservation and financial goals while preserving their lands for future generations and they provide communities and individuals with a range of conservation tools and tax-saving techniques. Conserving Carolina also fosters a greater understanding and appreciation of our natural heritage. 847 Case Street, Hendersonville, NC 28792; Southeast Office: 2060 Lynn Road, Suite 1, Columbus, NC 28722; 828-697-5777

Clean Water For North Carolina 
Since 1984 Clean Water for North Carolina (CWFNC), formerly the Clean Water Fund of North Carolina) has worked for clean, safe communities and workplaces with hundreds of communities and thousands of North Carolinians. CWFNC is a private non-profit membership organization serving residents across the state of North Carolina. 29 1/2 Page Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801; 828-251-1219

Cradle of Forestry
The Cradle of Forestry in America is a 6,500 acre Historic Site within the Pisgah National Forest, set aside by Congress to commemorate the beginning of forestry conservation in the United States. The Forest Discovery Center commemorates conservation history with an 18 minute movie on Vanderbilt, Pinchot, Schenck and the beginning of forestry in America. Ongoing public education programs in natural history, forestry and conservation. US Highway 276, Pisgah National Forest, 828-877-3130.

Lizaís Reef
An art- and science-based resource portal website dedicated to the protection and conservation of coral reefs, other oceanic environments and rain forests. Lizaís Reef is also involved in supporting local WNC environmental organizations in their efforts to protect the Western North Carolina mountains. This is also the art and environmental project of Lee Pantas, author of this guidebook. 828-779-1569.

Long Branch Environmental Education Center
The Long Branch Environmental Education Center, Inc. is a small educational institute in Buncombe County's Newfound Mountains, about 18 miles northwest of Asheville, North Carolina. Set aside in 1974 as an ecological sanctuary and land trust, it has developed into an educational center for sharing positive strategies of sustainability and local self-reliance in the areas of environmental design, organic food production, renewable energy, shelter design and construction, appropriate technology, resource conservation, recycling, wildlife protection, ecological restoration, and improved environmental quality. P.O. Box 369 Leicester, NC 28748, 828-683-3662.

North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light: NC IPL works with faith communities to address the causes and consequences of global climate change, and promote practical solutions, through education, outreach, and public policy advocacy. 919-828-6501

RiverLink is a regional nonprofit spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a place to work, live and play. RiverLink was born in 1987 of simultaneous efforts to address water quality concerns throughout the French Broad River basin, expand public opportunities for access and recreation, and spearhead the economic revitalization of Ashevilleís dilapidated riverfront district. As expressed in their mission statement, they focus on related issues that directly impact the environmental health of our regionís rivers and streams and the growth and sustainability of our economy. 70 Woodfin Place, Asheville, 828-225-0760.

Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project
SABP is a nonprofit regional organization dedicated to empowering citizens to appreciate, defend, and restore the native biodiversity of the Southeast. SABP seeks permanent protection for the regionís public lands and sustainable management of private lands. The group pursues its goals through public education, legal advocacy, and grassroots organizing. Battery Park Ave., Asheville, 828-258-2667.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
SACE is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes responsible energy choices that solve global warming problems and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. SACE has programs throughout the southeastern United States, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Asheville, 828-254-6776..

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
Founded in 1974 as a nonprofit charitable organization, the SAHCís mission is to conserve unique plant and animal habitats, clean water, and scenic beauty of the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee for the benefit of present and future generations. The Conservancy works with individuals and local communities to identify, preserve, and manage the regionís important lands. It has helped ensure the protection of more than 21,000 acres throughout the mountain region. 34 Wall St., Suite 802, Asheville, 828-253-0095.

Western North Carolina Alliance
The Western North Carolina Alliance is a grassroots organization that aims to promote a sense of stewardship and caring for the natural environment. Their primary goal is to protect and to preserve our natural land, water and air resources through education and public participation in policy decisions at all levels of business and government. They have chapters throughout Western North Carolina that mobilize Task Forces for rapid involvement around specific environmental issues. 29 N. Market Street, Asheville, 828-258-8737.

Western North Carolina Green Building Council
WNCGBC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote environmentally sustainable and health-conscious building practices through community education. Their main goal is to educate homeowners, builders and architects on the benefits of green building practices. PO Box 17026, Asheville, 828-254-1995

Western North Carolina Nature Center
The Western North Carolina Nature Center is the premier nature center in Western North Carolina. Their mission is to increase public awareness and understanding of all aspects of the natural environment of Western North Carolina through hands-on and sensory experiences. An outstanding 42-acre center, the Nature Center receives over 100,000 visitors a year and features indigenous wildlife and plant life native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. 75 Gashes Creek Rd., Asheville, 828-298-5600.

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